Late last year I wrote a blog article about the evolution of blogging titled soapbox of the 21st Century. I’d like to start the year with something (tragically) fun, which at the same time has serious repercussions. I’m talking about the concept of a fake blog or ‘ flogs’ as they are often referred to.

As I mentioned before, the concept of a public platform where people can voice their own ideas or concerns is nothing new. Centuries ago, speakers stood on wooden soap boxes making impromptu speeches about religion, politics, and other topics. Now if you’ve lived in a metropolitan city, you’ve probably seen and heard the girl standing outside of a store, microphone in hand, advertising the latest in-store specials through a PA system, their favorite haunts being jewellery, discount and department stores. It doesn’t take any stretch of the imagination to see a direct relationship between these two communication mediums, the difference being that the person on the soapbox is exercising free speech, and on the other hand we all understand that the lady with the microphone is a paid salesperson or spokesperson.

Things get trickier and the lines blur however, when the channels of communication become anonymous. For example, we’ve all heard the stories of how anonymity has been abused in chat rooms.

Electronic communications such as SMS, email, internet, public forums and chat is strongly favoured as a communications medium for the younger generations. Marketers realised this early on and jumped on-board to capture the y-Gen market who were spending less and less time being exposed to mass media communications like television and radio and more and more time in chat rooms listening to their iPods.

It wasn’t long before marketers were using blogs to promote their products. Fake blogs are marketing tools designed by a professional advertising company to promote a product. To combating the cynicism of the y-Gens, these blogs and their entries were disguised as being the writings and thoughts of a fan or a regular blogger. Though in practice, things did not work out as planned. The y-Gen were none too impressed when the flogs were ‘found out’; when ‘Z’ the 20-something thrill-seeker who’s into extreme adventure sports, listens to hip-hop and has a taste for X-Brand High Energy Cola turn out to be Mr. Phillip, a middle-aged PR agent who lives in a safe suburb with his wife and four children and drives a minivan – for example…

So a word of caution, blogs which are found to be fake run the risk of losing all credibility it has with the intended target market, and even counter-blogs have even been created to expose the ‘flog’ for what it is – this may be most damaging.

The following is a couple of big-time ‘flogging’ culprits-

Coke – blog titled “The Zero Movement”

Exposed – Coke Lies, Misleads With Fake ‘Zero’ Blog

Sony – blog titled “All I Want for Christmas Is a PSP”

Exposed – Sony gets ripped for a bogus PSP blog

McDonalds – blog titled “Lincolnfry”

Exposed – Fake Blog Alert: McDonalds, shame, shame

I’ll close with a line supposively taken from Sony’s flog that was in response to accusations that the blog was fake –

Charlie (a.k.a. Sony PR henchman)

“yo where all u hatas com from… juz cuz you aint feelin the flow of PSP dun mean its sum mad faek website or summ… youall be trippin.”